In today’s “get-it-done-yesterday” business environments, tenure is shortening and relationships are becoming shallower. It’s no longer enough when an employee exceeds expectations. Herminia Ibarra, the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Professor of Organizational Behavior at Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD), reflected on this topic in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “With competition fierce and the business climate changing rapidly, companies are telling their leaders that it’s no longer enough to deliver results in their individual departments, or over the short-term.”
Every once in a while, you will hear CEOs of organizations declare “At Acme Products, we are like a family!” I am not exactly sure what a CEO means when she describes her company as a family.
Perhaps there was a time when organizations were familial. Your grandparents may reminisce about the “good old days” when employees were treated like family. In the not-too-distant past, family-like environments naturally flourished since tenures were longer and relationships were deeper. Doing your job well nearly guaranteed of lifetime employment. However, organizations today are not like a family, regardless of what your well-intentioned CEO tells you.
Balancing work and industry events
Balancing work and industry events in your busy organization is not easy. Engaging with industry associations can become harder if your boss doesn’t support the concept. Your boss may feel that industry association meetings are just social or networking events “dressed-up” to look like a work-related event. Your boss may believe that engaging with your industry is not a productive use of time, or she may think that any industry-related activities should be done “off-the-clock.”
What story are you telling yourself?
As we’ve discussed, you are being asked to do more, faster, and with too few resources. You feel as though you are doing the jobs of three people. Your Outlook calendar is triple-booked. Recurring acquisitions add new responsibilities with no additional resources. Consolidations and downsizing shift the jobs, previously handled by your colleagues, to you. You wish a magic wand existed to take away all of the urgent email, last minute requests, and unexpected phone calls that are created by your colleagues.
One other characteristic of effective Introducers is that they are either naturally comfortable introducing themselves to others or they have mastered the ability to diminish any short-term discomfort that arises as they introduce themselves to others.
While I believe you can build your ability to be consistent, attentive, skilled, and invested when introducing yourself, I think it would be presumptuous to tell you to be comfortable when introducing yourself. Whether you are an Avoider, Fumbler or just plain unconsciously competent, some of you will not be comfortable introducing yourself, no matter how many books you read.
Introducers introduce themselves with energy, clarity, and confidence. Why reinvent the wheel? Let’s take a cue from our Introducer colleagues and practice some of the behaviors they weave into their introductions that make Introducers so effective when connecting themselves to others. Recall that, at their best, Introducers are the following:
Have you ever noticed that there are some colleagues who seem to remember names better than others? Do you covet their secret? Have they bought a DVD on the Home Shopping Network to build their memory skills? Do they picture a boat when they meet Bob and a house when they meet Harry?
For a variety of reasons, some of you are more able to remember names than others. I don’t know the secret, if there really is a secret, or if there is one secret that fits all of us. Colleagues who seem to remember names tend to be attentive and invested in the conversation. They have made a conscious choice that remembering a name is important.
Regardless of how strong your introduction started, your best efforts will be eroded without a strong finish. How you exit an introduction might be the last thing a new colleague remembers about you, so make sure you have a strong finish.
Your strong introduction is comprised of two main activities.
A lot of networking literature refers to a concept called the “30-second commercial.” This commercial is your “30 seconds of fame,” an opportunity to tell new colleagues who you are and what you do. A reminder that the focus of Raise Your Visibility & Value is on employed business professionals. Subsequently, you don’t need to focus a lot of your attention and effort on creating, memorizing, and speaking like a commercial. Skip the commercial and introduce yourself with simplicity and authenticity – your colleagues will appreciate it.
Approaching others or being receptive to the advance of others, great eye contact, and a confident handshake are key components to a strong start. These behaviors illustrate that you are comfortable and skilled at introducing yourself. In real time, your strong start will last from five to seven seconds. Don’t underestimate, however, the difference that a few seconds can make when introducing yourself effectively.